That’s not wet Sir – that’s the soup.”
Greetings to everybody all over the World, not just friends and family in England and Germany. I say this because, according to wordpress.com stats at least, there have been people reading my blog from as far as Costa Rica. I can’t say for sure that I currently have, ever have had, or ever will have, acquaintances in Costa Rica, but thank you for reading nonetheless. Whether it’s now officially Spring-time here in Göβweinstein or not, I really don’t know. One day the weather tells me one thing, the next day, it goes back on its word! Either way, it’s definitely been a lot milder, reasonably sunny, and the days are slowly getting longer. Bernd made a big call two days ago (the sun was beating down), when he asked us to set up a small percentage of the outdoor seating / table arrangements for the restaurant, despite the weather forecast for the next day being rather bleak. Well, as the saying goes, “he who dares wins.” The weather, it transpired, wasn’t bad after all…The only down side was however, that nobody sat outside.
The last month has definitely been the quietest since I’ve been here, work-wise that is. Shortly after the last post that I published (in February), I had enough time to head back to England for a week to see Grace and the family, which, in my opinion, could use up a whole blog in itself! Anyway, I’ll skim over that a bit later on. The week preceding that was a really entertaining one, in which I had hardly any opportunity at all to speak German, despite it being a normal working week. I call it normal, well, in terms of the work, it was relatively normal. In terms of the guests who were stopping with us, it was more unusual than normal. The reason behind this, was that during those seven days, the World’s biggest toy fair “Spielwarenmesse” was taking place in Nuremburg. Being an international event, room prices and availability in and around Nuremburg rocketed and decreased respectively. That meant that lots of businessmen and toy enthusiasts alike decided to go for the more commuter approach, e.g., book a room at Gasthof Stern and drive for 45 minutes every morning into Nuremburg…
What made that week remarkably funny and stressful simultaneously, was that every guest (and each room was booked) was foreign. I would estimate that approximately 10% of the guests could speak English (limited English if I’m being generous), and around 0% knew German. Now I can’t say that my colleague Christian’s English is particularly good (sorry Christian), and Stefan isn’t bad (that’s if he’s not running about like a headless chicken), so that left just one person, me, who had half a chance of communicating with the guests. I would say that the Russian guests were the worst, not a word of either English or German. Subsequently going through the menu with them took an hour in itself, and likely they (and I) were more confused than before. For example, one of the guests just kept saying to me, “Cheese Beer.” I racked my brains for minutes, but simply couldn’t work out what he wanted. A beer and a slice of cheese? Eventually I just gave up. So at all costs I tried avoiding the Russians, although Christian and Stefan kept trying to usher me over to translate. Ironically it was the only French guests who held a decent grasp of English (unfortunately no German). And all of this time I thought that it was the French who had the reputation for being USELESS at foreign languages. Unsurprisingly they had that stereotypically thick French accent (they must put it on), but at least we could work out what they wanted. We also had two Pakistani guests who were absolute jokers. For starters they got lost on the way to the hotel, then when they finally arrived they kept asking whether Fish and Chips was on the menu (which made me laugh), and when I asked Ingo the cook whether we could serve that, he simply felt insulted and ignored me for the rest of the evening. To wrap things up, they asked Bernd whether the hotel offered an Islamic breakfast, to which Bernd replied; “What does an Islamic breakfast consist of?” Fortunately there was one group of English guests (from East Anglia), with whom, ironically, were few communication problems. They were my only bit of rest bite! So for 6 long nights, there were plenty of examples of wrong orders, sounds of “sorry I didn’t quite catch that,” and times when it felt like the headquarters of the United Nations.
So whilst we wait for Easter, when all the pilgrims come to Göβweinstein and business really gets going again, work has been reasonably quiet. There have been a lot of repairs going on, Germany’s annual Fasching (Carnival) took place, Heike and Bernd went to Cuba, I’ve been on breakfast duty (my body clock definitely isn’t set to “Student” mode anymore), and finally I’ve been regularly taking Charlie for walks through the woods. Now just for the record, Charlie the dog is a legend. You can see from all the photos of him that I’ve posted, that he can be incredibly cute (which is 90% of the time), he’s a real “man’s best friend” kind of dog. But there’s another side to Charlie (it’s not all that bad so don’t get worried). This stems from his protective nature, whereby he always keeps firm watch over the house, and the only people he doesn’t bark at when entering the house is family Vogl and me. In fact, sometimes there’s no point in even locking the door, because if Charlie’s there, your safety is pretty much guaranteed. For some reason, Charlie hates ALL other animals. He just can’t stand them, in particular, little ratty-like dogs. When I’m walking him and we come across a small nipper-kind of dog, I’ve got to hold Charlie close. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell him off, he just doesn’t learn! He thinks he’s really clever sometimes, by pretending to be friendly to other dogs, e.g. sniffing their arse and wagging his tail, but the minute we look away he attacks. The phrase “pick on somebody your own size” just doesn’t sink in with Charlie. Charlie was with me and Christian in the hotel the other day, he got up, on his back legs, opened the door all by himself and left the building. Christian said, he’s probably just going to the toilet, he’ll be ok. MISTAKE. 30 seconds later, all hell breaks loose. Me and Christian run outside, what kind of scene awaits us? A young woman with her tiny rat dog, cowering behind a car crying, holding it to her breast, as Charlie lords it over them, barking, growling and warning them, that if they ever come round here again, that he will eat them for breakfast. He is undoubtedly one of the best dogs ever, but man can he be misbehaved sometimes.
The week I spent back in England was top notch, catching up with Grace, the family, and friends. I also received quite a few belated birthday presents whilst I was there, including series 4 and 5 of The Sopranos, a couple of Coldplay CD’s, and a nice new watch! There was a celebratory meal for my 21st at the local Indian, which was lovely, and one of mine and Grace’s other friends was celebrating his 21st too, so on the Saturday night we all went out in Canterbury. Not that I’ll be away from England for too much longer, seeing as I’ve already (time has flown) spent just under 6 months here in Germany. That means that I’ve only got another 2 months here in Göβweinstein! Which reminds me, it’s probably about time that I book my train ticket home (not flying this time), as train prices over here are amazingly even more expensive than back in England…Well, I guess they do run on time. So yes, all of us workers here at Gasthof Stern are making the most of the last couple of weeks of relative freedom before the real work kicks in again. To pass the time recently I’ve started buying Süddeutsche Zeitung, although it takes me approximately a week to read one edition of the newspaper, which funnily enough is a bit like my nan! I went to a sushi bar in Erlangen last weekend, have watched lots of football (mainly on illegal stream websites), and have been bumming around on Facebook.
I promise you all that I’ll publish another post very soon! But until the next time, farewell.